Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Wondering for a Muggy Monday

Running was on my mind a great deal this weekend. In some ways it’s good because I really need to refocus and rededicate myself to training again after the short hiatus I took on my San Fran trip and my subsequent illness. In other ways it’s not because it’s real easy to overthink things, make unnecessary changes and assume the doomsday scenario just because of a few recent bad runs. With this in mind, allow me to share a few thoughts I’ve had this weekend…

It’s been more than 48 hours since Saturday’s almost disastrous 5 mile race. All I’ve been able to think about is how close I came to collapsing on the ground and passing out in the last half mile. I’m somewhat embarrassed that me, a seasoned road racer and a medical professional, could ignore all the warning signs of heat stroke and jeopardize my health like that. It goes to show the powerful influence the runner’s brain can have over a person, especially during a race. But now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, I realize that there are some simple rules I can follow to prevent this predicament from ever happening again: 1. Always hydrate well before the race. On especially hot days, bring some along with you for the course. 2. Pay attention to my heart rate monitor to make sure I am not above my target zone in the first few miles. 3. Recognize when I’m coming up on my anaerobic ‘wall’ and prepare to negotiate. 4. Be extra weary of summer road races. (In my case, I’m voting to skip all races held in temps above 80 degrees at the start).

The best part of yesterday’s race was afterwards when I met and struck up an interesting conversation with a new teammate. As we walked home, we commiserated with each other on the brutal course conditions. He also shared some valuable information with me on the San Francisco Marathon Course while I recounted for him my fantastic run over the Golden Gate last week. It turns out he had been a resident of that city for 10 years and knew the area well. He told me he often biked over the bridge when he used to live there, but had never run it personally. Later on in the conversation, he revealed that all his race PR’s happened during the time he was in California and not once yet in New York. Before parting ways, I shared with him some speed drills that had been successful for me in the past. After he left, I couldn’t help noticing the coolest part of that whole long conversation was that we never spoke once about our race times. As such, we had no idea who was the faster one between us, and for all intents and purposes, it didn’t matter. It confirmed my belief that speed, as it relates to an individual’s knowledge and talent in the sport, is really overrated.

Looking over my schedule, I suddenly realize that the following two weeks will mark the peak of marathon training. What that means is that I’m going to be running the highest mileage at the fastest pace during the next two weeks. There are two 20-milers scheduled on back-to-back weeks with some track sessions in between to break up the monotony. Since I’ve resigned to the fact that I inevitably turn into a puddle of water whenever I try to run in the sun, for at least the next two weeks, I’ve made the executive decision to switch my training to the early morning. Waking at 4 and 5 am will have to be the norm now instead of the exception. I’ll have to juggle a few things around in terms of work, but at least this way, I won’t have to worry about fitting in my workout for the rest of the day.

It’s been a long time coming, but yesterday, I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Explore the dirt trails and bridges of Central Park. Who knew you could actually run around the park without having to use the actual loop? Even though it was a bit muddy at parts because it had rained the day before, it was so fun running all the tracks and trails that are ordinarily hidden from view. Some of the views were actually quite spectacular for where it was located. At times, I felt almost completely lost in the foliage and could’ve sworn that I was actually hundreds of miles away from home. If you live around my area, I highly recommend you take this map with you and do some exploring of your own!

Finally, have any of you been following the Olympic Trials going on right now in Eugene, Oregon? I was hooked ever since the first night, when I watched the race for the women’s 5,000 meters. I was completely awed by how Amy Begley had to not only beat out 5 other competitors to take third place (behind Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher), but also had to run a distance PR, including an incredibly fast 400m, to get under the Olympic Standard A Qualifying Time (by1.4 secs!) and earn her spot on the Olympic Team. What an incredibly riveting finish! It’s no wonder that I went out too fast on my own 5 mile race the next day! Can you blame me?

For those who missed the show, here's the call and the race recap. You’re welcome! Consider it my present for your work week!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Race Report from Gay & Lesbian Pride 5M Run

You must be thinking…Why is there a race report post right after a sick run post? Truthfully, I don’t know myself. Inside of me there must be a masochist waiting to be discovered. Yesterday, after my sickness have regressed to just some sniffles, I decided to sign up for this race as a way to shock my system back to health. I’ve had a bunch of lackluster runs and too many days off and wanted for all the world to get back to marathon training. What better way to signaling my return off the DL than by running a good race? I knew my legs love the idea; I just wasn’t sure if the rest of my body was up for the challenge.

It turned on my assessment was dead on. I should have just stayed in bed. By the start of the race at 9AM, the temperature was already over 80 degrees with 70% humidity. Omigosh! To top it all off, in my rush to get out of my apartment this morning, I forgot to bring my water bottle, and so had no beverage in hand on my walk over to the park. Bad, bad, bad Laminator!

And so that’s how it came to be, that even as I kept warning myself over and over at the start line to go out easy and conservative (no PR chasing!), I got carried away by the rush around me and ended up running 6:13 and 6:12 for the first two miles. What the heck! Mind you, my PR pace at this distance was 6:25 min/miles, and these numbers would be fast even for a 4 miler in the middle of winter, never mind 5 in mid-June! I knew I was in trouble when somewhere shortly after the second mile, I saw my HR already at 181 and climbing. Those numbers are usually reserved for my finishing kick…not mile 2. I screamed at myself to slow down, but my legs weren’t as responsive as I would’ve liked.

As expected, I started melting at mile 3, running it at 6:34. Full meltdown occurred at mile 4, going over Cat Hill. I was dehydrated, sweating bullets, and wanting for all the world to just stop running at this point. I think I came real close to registering my first DNF during this mile. Luckily, I spot one of my teammates taking pictures somewhere during the climb up the hill, and somehow managed to wave, put on a fake smile for the camera, and press on. Time for mile 4, 6:51…yuck!

Mile 5 was about just holding on for the finish. For the first time in as long as I could remember, there was no planning for a kick, no looking for a nemesis to pass. In fact, I think I got passed by like 4 or 5 guys during this final stretch. Instead, it was just about reaching the finishing line before I’d totally collapse. I did all I could to just keep my legs moving and to maintain balance. In my extremely dehydrated state, I could see myself swerving in the roadways ever so slightly from side to side. By the time I finished mile 5 at 6:49, I was so delirious, I almost felt on top of one of the volunteers as she handed me my cup of water.

Final Stastics
Finishing Time – 32:41;
Pace –
6:32; Age Graded % - 65.7%;
Overall Place – 94/3096 (3.0%);
Gender Place – 87/1600 (5.4%);
Age Place – 33/1211 (2.7%);

Sorry for the terseness of this report, but my memories after the race are as jarbled as my brain was during it. I guess in a way it is a perfect representation of my experience.

All-in-all, it was a forgettable race, as I saw my string of 9 consecutive road race PRs finally snapped…Boo! What began as an attempt to shock my system into shape became overall more detrimental to my health than the effort it was worth today. Luckily, in the end, all that really got damaged were my pride and my confidence.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Sick (Sick) Run

And just in case you’re wondering…by “sick” I’m NOT referencing the kind of “sick” that is synonymous with “WICKED”, “PHAT” or my personal favorite, “The Coronation of the Lamination”! In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, you’d notice that my LogMyRun log has been empty since the weekend, which meant that I’ve not logged a single mile in THREE days, which is unheard of in the middle of any marathon training program.

What is to follow involves a whole lot of medical jargon, so if you don’t feel like listening to me explain how I attempted to diagnose myself, I suggest you click away. For those who do stay however, I promise you’ll learn something about the pathophysiology of running sick that you might find useful, or at least entertaining…

The truth is, I started to feel sick the moment I landed in JFK. Even though I’m a pediatrician at heart, I blame it all on the 12-month-old rugrat who sat on his father lap in the seat next to me, and didn’t let me get one iota of sleep during the entire five hour flight from San Fran to New York. Moreover, she probably gave me some virulent strain of chlamydia or pertussis that’s been the bane of my existence for the past four nights. Even though she had no active symptoms, I know how infants and toddlers carry more infectious agents in their little pinky than I do in my entire body! At any rate, I became infected and within 12 hours of my arrival back in my apartment, I had the classic symptoms of a troublesome viral syndrome – runny nose, malaise, mild tachycardia and tachypnea.

I was good to myself though, and didn’t even try to run that day or the next, figuring I’d rest and give myself the necessary energy to fight off the infection. But instead of getting better, my symptoms got worse, until yesterday afternoon when I started to get side stitches on deep inspiration. I had planned for an easy 4 or 5 miler after work just to get back in the swing of things, but once I developed the side stitch first on one side than the other such that I couldn’t even take a full breath, I knew I had to throw my running plans right out the window as well. So instead I did all this medical research on the differential diagnosis of pleuritic chest pain and diagnosed myself either with a walking pneumonia (again from the chlamydia or pertussis) or a weird fungal lung infection (worse case scenario). I even tried to listen to myself with my stethoscope, but unfortunately my little pediatric version wouldn’t wrap around to the back. I made arrangements to call my best friend who’s also a medicine doctor first thing in the morning so he could listen to me and write me a script for a Z-pac.

Finally, on waking this morning, I had a breakthrough. I know it sounds weird, but I developed a new symptom which convinced me that I was getting better. I started coughing. This was good because usually in the time course of a common cold, by the time you develop a hacking dry cough, it usually means the tide has turned and you’re on your way to recovery. The pleuritic chest pain was also gone. Yay! Still, just to make sure, I called my medicine friend and left a message that I needed a STAT consult. Unfortunately, he returned my call a half hour later and told me that he was actually attending a conference in Chicago and won’t be back until the weekend. Bummer! I could’ve asked anybody else at the hospital to listen or write me a script…heck, I could’ve written a script myself…hmmm, okay, probably not so ethical…but since I thought I had turn the corner, I decided not to bother anyone, and proceeded to cough my way through my office hours. (Honestly, there’s nothing like seeing a whole panel of kids who are all healthy and well when you’re constantly sneezing with a fever and coughing up a lung!)

It was late by the time I got home and yet again, I had a decision to make. Should I stay home and get better quicker or risk impeding my recovery with a short run. On my running schedule, I saw I had already missed a long run and a speed workout this week, and thought that four days off running would officially qualify me as being on the DL. So I compromised and allowed myself to run with the premise that I’d take it easy and not even look at Rover (my Garmin) for the duration of the run.

It was almost already dark by the time I got to the park. This was good, because for one thing, the weather was comfortable and cool, and for another, I really didn’t want to bump into anyone I know who could see me run so slow. It’s a pride thing, I know, but I really wanted to allow my body (and not my mind) every chance to dictate the pace I was going to run.

Let me tell ya, running in Central Park again after a two week absence felt somewhat weird to me for the first half mile. While I was building my pace to a comfortable speed and letting my heart rate climb ever so slow, I was awed again by my surroundings. Turning the corner down Harlem Hill, I saw flickers of yellow light in the bushes next to me…fireflies! They definitely weren’t there the last time I ran here. Although they could be annoying at times, tonight I felt completely at peace with them and imagining that their little lights were actually celebratory fireworks for my coming home again! It’s weird how you can get so emotional by little things when you’re sick, but I literally cried some happy tears climbing up Harlem Hill, staring at the silhouette of tree branches against a beautiful full moon. I was so happy just to not be sick and running again that I felt inspired to run 12, 16, or who knows, maybe even 20 miles!

Feeling my heart pounding a bit fast and my breathing becoming shallow, I scaled my pace back on the downhill portions of the 6 mile loop. The funny thing was everytime I did that, my legs which were feeling quite good started to complain. My heart and lungs were hurting, but my legs were not. It was as if my lower body was complaining that the upper part was holding my running back. The feeling was completely foreign to me, because I’m usually running long miles on sore legs, so it’s usually the calves, hamstrings and quads that start hurting long before my cardiopulmonary system even notices a performance difference. As I focused in further on my running mechanics, I noticed that it was my breathing, and not the heart rate that was the limiting factor. I was taking about one breath for every beat and half today when ordinarily I could take about one breath for every two to two and a half beats. Not only so, but the breaths I were taking were again somewhat shallow and uneven. It was as if the rate of effective CO2-O2 exchange (more popularly known as VO2 effective) was ineffective and insufficient. I was somewhat intrigued by this notion so as I ran, so I tried to play around with my running mechanics by forcing myself to take deeper and slower breaths. I wasn’t really able to do this because as soon as I slowed my breathing, it would involuntarily speed up again, leading me to gasp for air. It also didn’t matter if I was running uphill or downhill or what my heart rate felt like to me, because my effective rate and lung volumes seemed somewhat set at a fixed rate. In pulmonogy terms, it resembled a obstructive lung pattern, similar to people who have exercised induced asthma. In layman’s terms, it’s like trying to breathe through a straw. Interpreting these results, I surmise that there are probably mucous plugs and other inflammatory garbage restricting the expansion of the tiny alveoli at the end of my bronchial tree. This was a very interesting science lesson for me, and it took me the rest of my six-mile run to calculate that my effective work of breathing was operating at around 65-70% of full efficiency. No wonder my heart and legs were so not enthused. That effort is so much less than my general aerobic effort which is somewhere in the range of 75-80%.

So you can imagine my surprise when I finished my six mile run, turned on the backlight for Rover, and found out that I averaged 7:00 min/miles for the full loop. What the heck? That is so much faster than what I imagined I was running. I really was thinking around 7:20-7:30, because it actually felt like I was running easy. I was so pumped about my time that I took an extra celebratory/cooldown loop around the reservoir (even though I remembered from the news that some guy just got mugged running this same trail at 2:00am early this morning, yikes!) Still, I took my time, finished the run, stretched, and celebrated with a Jumba Juice drink before heading home.

It was definitely a sick, sick run!

Thank you for getting through my long running diatribe about my sick run. If there are any medically related questions, feel free to shoot me a line! Hopefully, I did a decent job with the explanations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Last Cali Run: The Sawyer Camp Trail

I’ve been physically back home in NYC for a few days now, but I guess my mind and soul is still lingering back in San Francisco because I can’t seem to get this song and this song out of my head. It’s a bit annoying actually, but rather than waste my time rereading the same page in my textbook over and over again, I’d like to be productive and share with you all my final run in my final day in Cali. Other than my 20 mile adventure over the Golden Gate, it might have been the most beautiful and scenic run I had while I was over there.

The funny thing was I originally wasn’t even planning on running that morning. My flight out of SFO was scheduled for 1:30pm, which meant I had to be at the airport at around noon or so. I had just run ten miles the day before in San Mateo and was scheduled to take my travel day off so I could do another long run of 16 or 18 miles once I got back to New York. Too bad no one forwarded my running itinerary to my cousin (JS) who I was staying with the previous night, because sometime over dinner, she threw out the idea that we should get up early and run together. Not only so, but she knew a great running trail that a co-worker had told her about a little while back. Now I’m not saying I would’ve turn down the offer if someone else had asked, but if my dear cousin who doesn’t ordinarily run wants me to run with her I think I would have done it if even if I had just completed a marathon and was forced to shuffle my feet just to keep up. This might seem a bit dramatic, but if you were in my family, where no amount of begging and pleading on my part in the past had been successful to convince anyone to join me for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood, you’d know this was a big big deal. You could say I was even a bit apprehensive, knowing that this was my first time running with a member of the family.

The next morning, we got up early, around 7:30am, dressed, and got ourselves ready for the trip. In retrospect, we probably should have gotten up an hour earlier because the sun was already blazing with both barrels by the time we made it out the door. They were expecting record high temps in the bay area by around noon so we knew we had to get a move on if we were to avoid being fried bacon! We were picked up by my cousin’s boyfriend (BF) and the three of us headed over to our destination on the other side of town. During the thirty minute car ride, I found out that the impetus for this spontaneous training run was because JS and BF were both signed up for a fun 10K mud run in San Diego during the fall. They both had not run very much recently and wanted to start training for the event. Although my cousin admitted that she has at most done about 2.5 continuous miles over past year, I felt that given her past running experience (she ran high school track for a year) she should be good to go for her race if she could manage to run about 3 times a week consistently over the summer months. She promised me she’d try to be better at getting up early in the morning and running a few miles before work. I told her that I was going to give her a running quiz when I come back to San Fran in six weeks to track her progress. After some more running-related conversation and a few swervy turns, we arrived at our destination: The Sawyer Camp Trail.

The Sawyer Camp Trail is a seven mile paved running trail that stretches from the Crystal Springs Reservoir to San Andreas Lake in the outskirts of San Mateo, California. Although it is a nature walk per se, the popularity of this recreational path for cycling, roller blading, running and strolling was evident by the fact that we had to drive a good half-mile past the entrance to find a parking spot along the side of the road! Once we parked and walked to the start of the trail, I got pretty nervous because I could feel the ultraviolet radiation bouncing off the pavement. Luckily, the running trail is well shaded by large trees on both sides which made conditions bearable. Once we stretched, tightened our shoelaces, and started running, the heat became somewhat less of a factor. Instead, I became enthused by the natural scenery all around me. On one side was the tranquil lake with the waters so calm it reflected the surrounding summertime foliage perfectly. And on the other were trees, shrubs, and plants in all shades of green and brown swaying every so gently to the mid-morning breeze. [For a more detailed description and photographic evidence of this picturesque landscape, visit the Bay Area Hiker website] While I was admiring my surroundings and running ever so slowly next to my cousin(who was keeping a 10:13 min/mile pace), I tried to be as supportive as I could and gave her some small pointers on improving her running efficiency where appropriate.

Then, as I am running easy and thoroughly enjoying myself, something my cousin told me a bit earlier about this running path made me panic. She told me that although the woods surrounding the trail look rather innocuous, there have been sightings and tales of wild animal at various points throughout the path. Hidden behind the tall trees and dense shrubs were deer, raccoon, a few bears and even a lion. There were even reports of some trail runners and wildlife enthusiasts who dared to venture into the deep woods only to disappear and never be heard from again. [Haha! Okay, I made up the last part, but she was dead serious about someone reportedly seeing a lion on there!] So as I was running, I thought about what I would do if I saw a lion. I’m probably screwed if I saw a lion. My first instinct was to jump into the lake, but then quickly remembered from my experience over the Golden Gate that I’m deathly afraid of the water. Then I thought about just out running the lion, which wouldn’t be possible, unless there was someone else next to me, and all I have to do is outrun that other person. But if I were by myself, I’d be screwed, in which case, I could try to just lie there and play dead, but then I remembered that that only works as a defense against bears, which left me back to my original point that I’m probably screwed either way. Suddenly, in the middle of my panic thoughts about the lion and me, we reached the two mile marker and my cousin and BF started to turn back. My adrenaline was pumping wild at this point, and I really needed to release all the tension so I told them to go back first and I’d continue on the trail for an additional 1.5 before heading back. After she left, I sped through the rest of my 5 mile run (1.5 miles forward + 3.5 miles back) at tempo pace, imagining some ferocious lion nipping at my heels ready to attack. I don’t think I had any other thought through that entire run except trying to save myself from my imaginary carnivore. In the end, I think I made it faster than 6:40 min/mile pace and was totally wiped by the time I made my way back to the trail entrance again to meet up with cousin and BF.

After we all devaporized and decompressed from our exhilarating trip, we drove to Stacks at Burlingame for brunch. I had eggs, bacon, home fries, pancakes, and a Jumba Juice wannabe substitute strawberry milkshake. It was all so deliciously satisfying and was without a doubt one of the best getaway meals I’ve ever had in my traveling life.

(If any of you are in the Northern Cali area and looking for a place to run outside the city, I highly recommend the Sawyer Camp Trail. It is definitely one of the not-to-miss running highlights of the Bay area.)

(I’m also secretly hoping that my cousin will go back and do some of her training runs there so the next time I visit, we can both run the trail all the way to the end and back without stopping...yeah!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Distance vs Speed: Where Is The Love?

While I was away, there’s been a question that’s been heavily debated among my RBFs. In a nutshell, the controversy revolves around the following essential questions: Why do marathoners get more kudos than speed racers? Does training for distance somehow trump training for speed? What is up with the general fascination with the marathon distance? [See nyflygirl’s post titled "Does marathoning a runner make?" for her take on the matter.]

Since I train for both speed and distance at different times throughout the year, I consider myself both a speed racer and a marathoner. As such, I have equal admiration for both runners who run fast and those that run far. Having said that however, I think there are perfect logical explanations why the marathon, and by extension its participants, is held in such high esteem by both the general public and within the running circles. [Disclaimer: The perspectives shared in the following list do not reflect the views of its author…in other words, I’m just stating my observations for why things are they way they are…]

Why Distance Gets More Kudos Than Speed

  1. People can identify with distance more easy than they can with speed. As a concept, distance is more tangible than speed. If you’ve never ridden in a race car before, can you really tell what the difference is between driving 150 mph vs 200 mph? By the same token, for those who don’t run or don’t run for speed, can they really appreciate the difference between 6:00 pace vs 5:30 pace? Distance, however, is totally recognizable. For anyone who’s ever put on a pair of running shoes, the workout is almost always measured by the number of miles they ran that day. And for those that don’t run, they still use standard measures of distance every day…as in next freeway exit is 2 miles away, or the fuel tank gets 25 miles per gallon. So in general, I think people can appreciate distance much more easily than speed.
  2. The general perception is that it takes patience, persistence, and dedication to run a marathon, while some people can run fast just because they’re fast, not necessarily because they trained to be that way. Let’s face it, for the majority of us, we’re never going to run as fast as the Kenyans. No one knows how or even if the Kenyans train to be so much better than the rest of us. I bet even if they don’t train, they’ll still beat any of us in a footrace. But as far as the marathon goes, we’ve all been there, and know all the hard work, sweat and tears that go into training for one. And there’s really no doubt in anyone’s mind that there IS lots of training. After all, you can’t just roll of bed and expect to run a marathon without preparation. [I guess there are some exceptions out there…no need to name drop…you know who you are!]
  3. The training required to run a marathon is very regimented, and is familiar to most runners; training for 5Ks and 10Ks are generally not. Consider the following exercise: We all know the popular marathon training programs: Galloway, Daniels, Pitzinger, SmartCoach, etc; but can anyone name me a popular 5K or 10K training program? We know the key elements of marathon training: long run, tempo runs, general aerobic runs, intervals, but what are the key elements for 5K/10K training? The point is that speed training (for the shorter distances) is an esoteric subject. Because of the paucity of programs, Speedwork training for those who are even interested is often very individualistic and subject to interpretation. Moreover, there is no guarantee that just because you’re running a 5K/10K, you’ve adequately trained and prepared for it. At least with the marathon, you can be certain that most of the people who toe the starting line have had to go through some sort of training to be there.
  4. The people giving the kudos have a secret desire to run a marathon, but not necessarily to run a fast 10K. We all know people who’ve run one marathon because it was on their list of life things to do. For them, merely crossing the finish line is an accomplishment. Whether it’d be in 3, 4, 5 or even 6 hours, they aren’t so concerned. Heck, many of them have even probably spectated a marathon or two. But what about the people who run 5Ks or 10Ks…how come no one makes a life wish to run those under a specific time?
  5. In general, most runners participate in only do one to two marathons a year, while the 5K and 10K road races do not require similar constraints. I think most people do not hold 5Ks or 10Ks in such high esteem because there are so damn many of them. You could probably run one every week if your little heart so desires. This is in contrast to marathons, where most dedicated runners will not run more than 2 or 3 a year. So just by the sheer numbers, a marathoner has fewer opportunities to showcase his talent than the 5K/10K racer. This contributes to the sentiment that the marathon is a unique event.

These are just some of the reasons why I think we see and hear more fanfare surrounding marathons. What do you all think? Feel free to agree/disagree and leave feedback in the comments.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running Adventures Over The Golden Gate

I don’t know what exactly inspired me to run so long yesterday. Maybe it was the daunting realization that marathon Sunday was less than two months away. Maybe it was the sight of all the runners and bikers already out on the boardwalk at half past five in the morning. Or maybe it was the intimidation of running in a foreign place under mysterious skies on unfamiliar roads and trails that made me run further than I’ve yet run this year. Whatever the cause, I’m grateful because it made for the most incredible running adventure I’ve had in a very very long time.

It all started when I unexpectedly woke up at 5am on conference day. Because lectures didn’t start until 8:30am and I hadn’t had a good run in a couple of days, I decided to lace up the shoes and run over to The Embarcadero. My plan was for a short 3 mile run to Pier 39 to bid good morning to the sea lions that commonly play and frolick in the docks nearby. The sun had barely pierced the horizon by the time I started my run, but already there was bunches of runners out on the walkways. The weather was unseasonably cool the past few days since my arrival, and coupled with the dense fog covering much of San Francisco, the early morning breeze blowing off the ocean front made the early morning downright frigid. Still, I was quite content to know that I was running miles while the city was still mostly asleep.

By I reached the pier where I had intended to stop, the wind had died down and the dawning sun was shimmering specks of light on the water. It was still rather cool, but having warmed up sufficiently in the previous miles, I felt rather comfortable. Just as I was about to stop, I saw a large running group of 10 or so pressing onward in front of me and decided to follow. Since I hadn’t planned to run further than the pier, I thought I’d run with the group to see where they were headed so I wouldn’t get lost. Unfortunately for me, after about another block and a half, they made a U turn and started running back. I didn’t know what to do, but since I was still feeling somewhat fresh, I decided to continue running onward…at least until the end of the Embarcadero.

I ran through Fisherman’s Wharf, which brought me to the end of the Embarcadero; through Jefferson Street, through a park on Marina Boulevard, then along a trail next to a beach, then onto the Presidio. Eight miles later, I arrived at the northern tip of the San Francisco Bay. For all intents and purposes, this should really have been the end of my run, since the beachfront trail ended there. I took a mini-break at that point to assess my scenic run and enjoy the view. I was about to head back when I saw a car climb up a really steep hill on my right hand side. I didn’t know where that car was headed or where the path led, but because I had been running on a flat path the entire way up to this point, I felt I needed to run up the hill just to give my hamstrings and quadriceps a little workout.

The hill climb was a little strenuous and difficult. I was about to complain and turn back when I scaled the crest of the hill, made a sharp right hand turn and literally felt my jaw drop in amazement, because right in front of me, less than 100 feet away, was the majestic structure known as the Golden Gate Bridge! I must have stood there for a good 5 minutes just staring and saying “Wow!” I have driven past the bridge on a previous trip, but had never seen it up close on foot before. And even though I had already run 9 miles, and had struggled up a steep hill to get there, I knew I just had to run across. So I did.

Let me tell you…running across the Golden Gate Bridge was definitely one of the most thrilling runs of my life. On the one hand, I was awed by the incredible views all around me. Because the pedestrian walkway sits right to the right of the road and next to the edge of the bridge, it offers a panoramic view of all the surrounding land and water down below. However, once I got beyond being blown away by the scenery, my feet became quite numb from the altitude. Yes, unbeknownst to me up to this point, one can actually develop a fear of heights from running across a bridge (even if it is one of the tallest suspension bridges in the world). And the more I tried not to acknowledge the fact that I was a wuss, and should enjoy the awesome view as much as possible, the more my fear became a paranoia. At times, I even imagined that any minute I’d see Magneto rising out of the water, and use his mutant powers to transport this bridge over to Alcatraz (an Xmen III reference for those who never saw the movie). Also, not only was the bridge massively tall, it was extraordinary long too. It literally took me more than ten minutes to cross it, which is quite a long period of time when you’re sure you’re somehow going to end up falling over the railing!

Once I made it over the bridge and into the safety of the Marin County Visitor’s Center, I paused a bit to enjoy the cool breeze and the incredible scenery before psyching myself up to run back over to San Francisco. I’ll admit I had to close my eyes for part of the way back to calm the nerves. Eventually, I made it back over, down the hill and onto the running path for the trip back.

By the time I made it back to my hotel, what had originally started as a 3 mile easy run to greet the sea lions became a 20 mile amazing journey through three different parks, four different boulevards, four different subclimates, and one majestic bridge that became both a thrill and a terror both at the same time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Running Out of NYC

Something weird happened on my early morning 12 miler yesterday. Two runners…count’em two…purposely went out of their way to come over to my side of the street just to say Hi, and when I went to the store to pick up a bottle of Gatorade, the guy in front of me at the cash register actually turned to me and said, “Why don’t you go ahead of me, you’ve got only 1 thing, I’ve got 4.” Wow, I must be dreaming

Well, I’m not dreaming but I am in California! Actually, I’ve been in San Francisco for the past few days attending a medical conference (that explains why I’ve been behind on my blog writing and reading this week…sorry!) and one thing I’ve definitely noticed is how runners are treated somewhat differently here than I’m used to back home. For one thing, cars actually stop when I’m running in the street even when they have the right of way. For another, other morning people always acknowledge my presence when I’m running by. I can’t tell whether it’s because they recognize me as being from out of town or if it’s just politeness on their part. Either way, it is quite refreshing not to have to pretend that I don’t know anybody when I’m running.

Another new experience I had this week was doing speedwork on a perfectly manicured high school track. It was such a shock for me to find this tiny piece of running heaven in the middle of my run the other day that I had to drop pace and do some impromptu 400m intervals just to test it out. I was such a novice at tracking running that I didn’t know which lane constituted 400 meters (the inner lane), and what the proper etiquette was in terms of passing (can pass either side, but preferably on left). Yeah, I had to wiki that online after I got back to the hotel to find the answers. Still, I had fun pretending to run fast and imagining 15,000 fans roaring and screaming as I turned down toward the last corner into the final straightaway. Yeah, I definitely missed out in high school.

My runs this week have been sporadic, due to my crazy conference schedule. Although I am enjoying myself in this strangely friendly city, I am somewhat anxious to go back home soon so I can resume my regular running and training. While I’m here though, I hope to get in a few long runs so I can practice running the hills in this weather in preparation for marathon day which is now less than 2 months away. Yikes!

Hope you all have a wonderful week. I’ll check in periodically so don’t be afraid to comment (especially if anyone has good suggestions for good running routes in SF!) I’ll be reading even if writing won’t be as convenient.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I got tagged not once, but twice last week. Why was I tagged twice, when some bloggers have not yet been tagged? I have no idea. Maybe both Jamie and sRod are trying to suggest that I lack the running speed necessary to get away from the tag. Maybe they both think my recent posts lack content and they’re trying to give me more interesting topics to blog about. But honestly RBFs, do you have to resort to such lengths to expose the skeletons in my running closet? I was really thinking of ignoring the tags and writing an in-depth analysis of glycogen depletion during the marathon and discuss strategies used by elite athletes to avoid the wall in their races, but since you all are so interested on how the Running Laminator got to be…well, running, I guess I’ll play the game and answer the questions.

Here are the rules:

Each player answers the 5 questions on their own blog. At the end of your post you tag 5 other people and post their names. Go to their blogs and leave a comment on their blogs telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details. When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I didn’t run. I wish I did though because if I started running back then, I would’ve turned out to be a kick-ass runner by now instead of just being somewhat average. I blame it on those few running acquaintances back then who always made running seem so not fun. They’d get up way before class and run on the treadmill late at night. They always left early at all the parties and ate healthy all day long. I mean, why would you ever want to be associated with people like that?

2. What is your best and worst race experience?

Worst: NYCM, 2005…my first marathon. I don’t think I’d ever been more beat down physicially than I was that day. Not only did I hit the wall and had to limp/walk through most of the miles after 20, I developed severe leg cramps while I was on Fifth Avenue and had to crawl, yes literally, two blocks until I was rescued by the volunteers at the medical station. They gave me a rub down and massaged my lower limbs until I was able to use them again. Three years later, I still have nightmares from the experience and would occasionally find myself awaken suddenly in the middle of the night, grabbing both of my lower legs.

Best: This one is a hard one, but if I had to choose, it’d have to the
Queens Half Marathon, 2007. (Hey, there’s a reason why I called it the Best Run Ever!) You can read my race report for the full description, but I consider that race to be a turning point in my running career. Up to that point, I had run the distance five or six times before, and had always struggled in the latter miles. I tried experimenting with taking more or less gels, more or less water/Gatorade, running with and without music, but nothing seemed to make a difference. During this race however, psychologically, something just clicked and I was able to just run, with no music, no GU on somewhat of a hilly course, and finish with a faster time than I’d ever thought I could run. Ever since then, I have become a physically stronger and mentally tougher as a runner, at least in my estimation.

3. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Worst: When running a marathon, expect and ignore the pain.

Best: Don’t be a running schizophrenic, listen to your body.

4. Why do you run?

Wow, there are so many reasons. First of all, I run because I can. Then I run because it is not easy to do, but is gratifying and healthy to do. I run because it is free and leads to a better environment. I run because it is a simple pleasure, and running allows me to connect with others who share a similar passion. But then, I also run because I’m by nature a competitive person. I want to be able to stare down my fellow man, and know for the most part, that he can pick the time, place, or distance, and I’ll beat him in a footrace. I run because I am an athlete. I run, therefore I am.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I could be cheap and regale you all with the story of how I became the Laminator, because I still get ask that question on a weekly basis. (Hint: the story is recaptured
here if you haven’t already heard.) But I think I’ll share something that a large subset of those who visit my blog probably doesn’t know. Although I don’t like to talk about it much, as good as I am a runner, I’m probably as good if not better as a poker player. For the past couple of years, I play in a weekly (now semi-weekly) home tournament game with a whole bunch of friends and just this past year, I won the Player of the Year honors for being the biggest winner for 2007. No, I don’t have aspirations of going pro, and no, I’m not interested in playing in the World Series of Poker even if people were to sponsor me so don’t even ask. Poker is just a minor hobby of mine and I treat it more as a venue to hang out with friends more than anything. But I figured that as long as I’m going to be playing on a semi-consistent basis, I might as well learn to be good at it and generate some side income along the way. So that’s about all I want to say about that.

Now that I’m done with my Q&A, it’s my turn to tag. Since I was tagged by two people, I’m going to reach out and touch two people as well. So
Xenia and nyflygirl, the spotlights are on you ladies. Get busy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Recap From The Need For Speed Relay Race

Wow! That was SOME crazy adventure we had on the trails today. The Need for Speed relay race turned out to be more about strattling the fine line between persistence and survival then about running fast. Parts of the race course was completely exposed to sun, and the course temperature topped out at 95°F with a reported heat index of 105°F. The sun and humidity definitely took some casualties today. By the middle of the afternoon (when we were just about to start the last leg, coincidentally) they had to shut the entire course down and cancel the rest of the race due to the alarming number of runners who needed medical attention suffering from severe dehydration and/or heat stroke (Of course, the race officials neglected to tell us that when he collected our chips and disbanded us in the last transition area, leading to false rumors of an impending thunderstorm amongst the running teams!). As such, our team race results never became official since we never crossed the finish line. What a bummer because everyone on my team (Flyer Black) fought hard and battled through the heat and humidity to run a great race. I was especially disappointed because I never got to see our anchorwoman (nyflygirl) greeted and cheered upon by our awesome team as she flies across the finish line on the way to capturing an award of some kind for our team! (Yeah, she probably would’ve had to run much faster than a personal PR to get there – but really, we didn’t have any doubts that she would’ve pulled it off if given the opportunity…) That would’ve been classic! Instead, I’m left to personally ponder what might have been (would she have crossed still blog-texting on her Treo or taken off her singlet in celebratory triumph like Brandi Chastain…or both?!) and reflect on my individual performance in leg 3 of the race…which, although no longer official, was still interesting and somewhat memorable…

I got quite anxious waiting for RB (my leg 2 teammate) to arrive at the transition area so I could start my 9+ miles through the woods. Because this was not only my first relay race but also my first trail race, I didn’t know what to expect. What I did know was that our team was close to pulling up the rear at this point of the race and needed me desperately to make up some time. Still, I was well aware of the fact that the sun and humidity had already taken a heavy toll on all the runners who had run legs before me. Run fast, run conservative became my mantra for of the day. After what seemed like forever, RB suddenly comes dashing over from the wrong side of the transition area, swipes the chip, hands me the race bracelet, and I was off.

Leg 3 was described to me as of 9.3 miles of running through trails and roads. As I head into the woods, and away from the transition area, I suddenly realize that I’m very much alone. Other than a few sparse signs and the vague resembling of a dirt trail, there’s nothing here to suggest that I am in a race, or even exist, at all. The initial experience was quite surreal at first, and it took a little while for me to collect my bearings and settle down. I told myself that I’d just take it easy through the first few miles through the woods and not worry about pacing until I had established a better sense of how to run trails. A quarter of a mile in and I’m beginning to feel a bit more comfortable maneuvering through the woodland. I’m holding my own running on grass, jumping over puddles and avoiding obstacles when suddenly the trail stops and there’s no next arrow. If anyone’s ever been lost alone in nature with no connection to the outside world, you’d know, it ain’t fun. Trying hard not to panic, I force myself to slow to a walk and retrace my steps. Luckily, the extra fork in the road I took wasn’t so far back and I was on my way again about a minute later. After that initial snafu, I was able to regain my momentum pretty quickly and resumed running.

After a half-mile run through an open bridge above the Croton Dam (the view on the way over was amazing…the heavy beatdown by the sun directly overhead…not so much!), the rest of the leg was mostly on dirt and grass trails in heavy wooded areas. Although the elevation map would have you believe that most of the course was even or sloped slightly downhill, I could have sworn that I was running upwards the whole way through. It seemed like whenever we came to a fork on the road with an uphill and an downhill portion, the course direction arrow almost universally pointed skywards. The most dramatic example of this came somewhere in mile 5 when the trail suddenly disappeared into the middle of a wall of dirt. In order to continue, one must walk/climb about 100 feet straight up. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! The funniest thing was when I reached this portion of the course, there were two other runners already there, standing with hands on hips, staring at the monstrosity. They were in the middle of contemplating of how to proceed when they saw me scurrying by. I slowed to a stop and looked at them. They looked at me, looked at each other, and then said to me. ”Please, please, go ahead!” I wanted to double-check and ask again for their permission, but their heavy panting and painful grimaces told me all I needed to know. So I took the climb with a few quick and steady strides and went again on my way. I didn’t think I’d see those two again. But about a half mile later, after a quick turn onto a paved road that led downhill (finally!), I came upon a busy intersection with no race official or direction arrows pointing which way to go. That’s when I realized that I’d again lost my way and again needed to retrace my steps. The trek back uphill was even more painful then I’d imagined. What made it even more depressing was when I saw my same two pals from before streaking down the hill right past me. I yelled back “Hey, you’re going the wrong way!” but by the time they heard me, they had already reached the intersection and came to the same conclusion I did. Because I felt bad that I had led both of them astray, I waited at the top of hill for their acknowledgment before continuing back onto the trail.

Eventually, after 8 miles of endless and mindless conservative running through the trails, I got back onto paved roads for the final 1.3 miles. Although there was still one brutal series of back to back steep uphills that required some energy to battle through, I was for the most part, extremely excited and glad to be back to running on pavement. I blistered the finally 1.3 miles at sub 7 min/miles to finish my 9.3 (turned 10.3 because of all the mishaps) mile adventure at 1:18:26 before turning my chip over to my next teammate.

In summary, I have to say it was a fun but humbling experience running through the woods. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had been to roadracing until today when I had to run on a completely new surface. I had a great experience and learned a lot on my trail run. I vowed that this will not be my last battle with the trails, and will be back for more real soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Random Ramblings on A Scorching Saturday

I was going to run today; operative word in this sentence is was…because it’s now 4pm and it’s still 91° outside with a humidity of 55%...wowsers! Are we in Arizona or did someone just stick the city in a big oven furnace? Just yesterday, the high in the city was 73° and truth be told, I felt a bit cold running in Riverside Park after work in the mid-afternoon. Geez, if I had known about this impending heat wave I would’ve extended my run yesterday just so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not running right now. (Wait, yes, people did tell me. I just chose to misremember right now so I have an excuse for being lazy! C’mon, it’s Saturday!)

But even though I’m not dragging my butt outside right now (for safety reasons!!!), I am pretty inspired by what I saw this morning. For those who are not from these parts, this morning was the running of the NYRR Mini-10K. This women’s only running event is pretty special because it commemorates the world’s first ever women’s only road race. (Runner’s World has an awesome audio clip of Kathrine Switzer describing the origins of this race at her press conference at Tavern on the Green this week…link) The most poignant thing I remember from the story of the race beginnings was that they use to think that women can’t run in marathons or other distance events because their uteruses would fall out. Say what? I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I first heard that.

Many female running superstars came from all over the country to run in the race this morning, including our three U.S. Olympians – Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, and Blake Russell. I arrived in the park too late to see these speedsters in action today, but did get a chance to see them when they came to the bridal path the other day as part of the Runner’s Week celebration. Checking on NYRR website afterwards, I saw that DK came in 3rd (33:14), MLB 4th (33:29), and BR 6th (33:40). All in all, there were 4104 finishers! Everyone of them are in a champion in my book for running an awesome race despite the heat and humidity. Makes me feel like a total wimp for crying out like a baby when I had to wake up early and run in the rain in my last race!

A special big ups goes out to an old friend DS who recently just took up roadracing and in just her third race of the year, broke 9:00 for the first time today! Not only did she PR, she ran a negative split for her awesome finish, something I’ve still not been able to achieve in my three years of racing (and she credits me for encouraging her….puuhlease girl, I’m just all words…you’re the one who brought them to action). Incredible, incredible job, congrats!

As for me, don’t worry, the heat and humidity will have a chance to beat me down too! I’m just resting, saving up some energy for my duel with the sun tomorrow. Sometime in the mid-morning, I’ll be running a 9.3 mile (yikes!) leg for my Need For Speed NY Flyers relay team. Although there’s been an e-mail circulating amongst us to run slow, I know they’re semi-expecting me to haul some major ass out on the roads. Heck, I’m not even sure I can hold myself back from running fast. I just have to remember to be smart and let my past experience dictate how I’m supposed to run. Either way, it’s going to be interesting since it’s my first relay race experience and also my first race that is not entirely on roads (there is some trail running involved, I’m told).

I haven’t decided whether I’ll post a race report on it. I guess it’ll depend on if I win my battle with the sun or be fried like an egg and require assistance from my teammates to scrape me off the pavement with a spatula (okay, I stole this line from Jodi at Confessions of a Runner podcast! Check her out, she's awesome!). I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes…if I survive to tell about it, that is!

Have a great running weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hardcore Running:
Race Report from NYRR Anniversary 5M Run

So many times along the way from my bed to the start I considered sitting this one out. Sigh…if I only looked out the window or left ten minutes late, I could’ve avoided the whole fiasco! Oh, did I mention, I PR’d this race by exactly 30 seconds! Yeah, imagined how PO’d I would’ve been if I didn’t even have that as a race souvenir! A bunch of you, especially those that don’t live in NYC, probably have no clue what I’m talking about right now, so let me take a step back and reintroduce the topic again.

The NYRR Anniversary 5 Mile Run was held today (Wednesday, June 4th) at 5:30 AM to celebrate NYRR’s 50th birthday. As one of the highlight races of Running Week, it was somewhat unique in that it was FREE and took place on the morning of a normal workday. I had signed up for this race a couple of weeks back because I wanted to run a 5 mile race which I hadn’t done since last year, and also as a mini-practice for the San Francisco Marathon in August, which coincidentally enough will also begin at 5:30 AM. Originally, I thought the timing of this race would make it inconvenient and unpopular for the majority of NYC running folk. So I was totally surprised by the news a few days back that the race cap of 5,000 participants had been reached and registration for the race was closed. Wow!

I had planned to get to bed by 10pm last night in order to get up at 4AM for the trek over to the race start, located at the Lower West Side of Central Park (which by the way is so inconvenient for this Upper East Side apartment dweller!) However, as been the case recently, I didn’t really hit the sack until closer to midnight. Urrgghh! As I drifted off, I set my alarm grudgingly…not knowing whether it’d be realistic for me to get up to race on a work morning with only 4 hours of sleep!

When the alarm first sounded at the appointed hour, I sat up with a slight headache, shut off my alarm, and had every intention of drifting back to sleep. I was still very tired, and the thought of dragging myself more than one-and-a-half miles over to Tavern on the Green for a 5 mile race with a full panel of patients to attack once I got back sounded crazy and incomprehensible. Yet, the more I wanted to go back to sleep, twisting and turning every which way, the more I was unable to drift off. Eventually, I got fed up with the whole exercise, saw that the clock only read 4:30 AM, got up, got dressed as quickly as I could, and headed out the door.

In retrospect, maybe it was fortunate that I didn’t get up at the designated hour, because then I would’ve had time to check the weather forecast and seen what I was up against. I didn’t know until I was fully dressed in running gear and out the door that rain had been falling steadily since late last night. There were puddles everywhere and I was not prepared for either the rain or the crisp cold humid air. I had never run a race in rain before, so my first instinct was to turn around and go back to bed. But then I thought about how tough it was for me to get up this morning and how bad I felt this weekend after my miserable long run and knew that I needed to prove to myself that I am a runner and not a wimp. Besides, it was only a light steady rain, and I could barely feel it hitting my face while I’m running. It’s not so bad.

Boy, was I wrong. By the time I jogged over to the east entrance of the park, the light steady rain had begun giving way to an outright downpour. Up to this point on my jog over from my apartment, I did not pass by a single runner, which was unusual for a sold-out NYRR race. Maybe they had canceled it due to the inclement weather, I thought to myself as I continued to jog over to the start. All around me, the rain was pelleting the ground like little water grenades As I slowly made my way on the wet pavement, I started to get worried. Where are the cones, the mile markers, the volunteers? Could it really be that I was the only one dumb enough to show up for a race in a torrential rainstorm? What an idiot am I if I showed up only to find out it had been canceled. Maybe I should just go back right now. Why am I going further? I can’t run a race in this weather. This is absolutely crazy! Kudos to the little voice in the back of my head which kept telling me “We need to be hardcore right now…are you a hardcore runner? Because only hardcore runners would be running here at THIS time, at THIS place, under THESE conditions…everyone else who’s not is at home sleeping right now…you decide which you wanna be!”

I felt a little better once I made it over to the 72nd Street Transverse when I saw a pack of crazy runners with bib numbers jogging over to the start. It turned out that I wasn’t the only hardcore runner here today. I just couldn’t see them from where I was because they were all hiding underneath the trees, trying to find some cover against the rain. There were not that many people at the race today (at least not what I was accustomed to at an NYRR race anyways) but to everyone’s credit, all the people that were out really tried hard to enjoy themselves. There were more smiles and laughters to be had in the inclement weather than looks of concern or disgust…which really really surprised me. So this is what hardcore runners look like. I had no idea! For once, I think I was quite proud to be one of them.

Once I realized that I was actually going to run this race, I tried to devise a suitable racing plan. I knew right away that I was not going to break 32 minutes like I intended when I first signed up for the race. The heavy rain mixed with the wet pavement was just not going to be conducive to a fast time. I wanted to run conservative and in control, so that I wouldn’t inadvertently take a wrong step, slip, and take a tumble (I am very paranoid about avoiding injuries at all cost!) but still run fast enough to possibly PR. I fully expected all the hardcore speedsters to be out at full force, and for once, I’m not going to exhibit any bravado in an effort to chase anyone down, but just run my own race at a pace that was comfortably fast for me. To be honest, all I really wanted to do was get through the race so I could run home and get out of my dripping wet clothes!

After some brief announcements from Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of NYRR, at exactly 5:30 AM, we heard the starting horn and were off. It was still raining hard as the race began so I was glad just to be moving again. I started the race running a fast but conservative pace like I had planned. Despite some creative sidestepping around water puddles, I somehow managed to cross the first mile with a time of 6:13. I was surprised and frightened by this time so I scaled back a bit to avoid burnout.

Mile 2 coincided with the toughest uphill of the course, affectionately known to us regulars as Cat Hill. I usually like to take this hill pretty aggressively because this is my home turf so to speak and pride myself on being able to climb this steep incline better than my competitors, but given the weather and wet course as it was, I conceded my pace and yielded right of way to those around me. At first, it was quite demoralizing to see so many people past me by, but then one by one, they all said thank you as they ran past, as if they knew my plan all along. This has never happened to me before. It felt weirdly satisfying to be so appreciated. I think I was a little too willing to play this role as I recorded only a pace of 6:35 for this second mile.

The rain finally did stop sometime in the middle of Mile 3. I thought I’d feel better about things, but by this time, I really no longer cared. The damage had already been done. My shoes and socks were soaked and I had given up trying to avoid road puddles. There were just too many. After a slow mile 2, I had all but given up on running a fast race. All I was concerned about was keeping my average under 6:30, which was my previous PR pace, and finishing the damn run before I develop blisters on my feet. I reached the 102nd street transverse and the Mile 3 marker at 6:24.

Two more miles, just two more…I kept repeating to myself as I made the climb over the west side hills. I was starting to feel some fatigue in my legs from carrying my soggy feet for so long. Everyone around me was slowing down a tad too, which gave me extra motivation to beat a few of them up the hill. Aside from my hammys sending intermittent achy signals to my brain, I was actually feeling not so bad. The rain had stopped it seemed for good and the night sky had suddenly given way to some daylight. Because I had no aspirations of racing fast, I felt very comfortable running the pace that I was going. I knew I would have to push it in the final mile for the finish, so I took this next-to-last mile to appreciate the fact that I had made it out for this hardcore run so early in the morning. Rover, my Garmin, read 6:33 as I passed the Mile 4 marker.

Mile 5, the last mile, was all about bringing it home. It was for the most part downhill, which made it easier to run fast. I let two runners sneak up past me in the first half of this mile, but then caught two others in the last half. The finish of the race next to Tavern on the Green was anti-climactic because there was no crowd, no announcer, and not even a large banner to signal the end of the race. I think I could have shaved even a few more seconds off if I were able to tell where the actual end of the race was from a distance. Still, I was happy to end with a semi-fast 6:22 last mile for a final time of 32:10. It was another PR for me, an improvement of 30 seconds on my previous best at this distance. To celebrate, I ran home as fast as I could, showered, changed, and headed straight for work. Talk about hardcore!

Final Statistics
Finishing Time - 32:10;
Pace –
6:25; Age Graded % - 66.8;
Overall Place – 82/1784 (4.6%); [Wow…only 1784 finishers out of 5000 registered!]
Gender Place – 79/999 (7.9%);
Age Place – 29/645 (4.5%)

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